Saturday 2nd April, 2022 - Hypothermia then sunshine, and then starvation & thirst
Hello and welcome to my newsletter!
Another season 2 instalment…
Rainy season started here this week, so it’s been cold and very wet. Quite a bit of tech stuff related to the Ukraine - Russia situation, interesting but a bit depressing, the conversation about the future of podcasting cheered me up though. Also there are loads of podcasts and links at the bottom so make sure to scroll down, even if you aren’t interested in my prose :)
It was a little weird observing last week that perhaps prominent people in tech are moonlighting creating the stories and themes of the World Wide Web, but not entirely surprising, there’s been so much weirdness lately. Something I didn’t mention in the Punk Rock Internet issue was something odd that happened right after I listened to that selection of great music culminating in the very excellent cover track.
I overheard on someone’s mobile device a track, that was clearly oriental sounding, but if you squinted a little, or whatever the audio equivalent of squinting is, was a dead ringer for something written by Robert Johnson. He’s one of the guys that influenced Bob Dylan among others. He wrote some phenomenal blues music back in the day.
Perhaps there’s a GPT3 algorithm that can create oriental sounding versions from tracks of any genre? Or maybe blues music is fake too? Geez. I thought about it for a while and after all this stuff going around and around in my head, I just wanted to hear that oriental Robert Johnson track again. It sounded really great. Where can I hear it again?
In the end it doesn’t matter if the World Wide Web is fake, or if Blues music is fake, the web is still awesome just as blues music is still awesome. Who knows, maybe it’s even more awesome than we had ever imagined.
It was Libre Planet 2022: “Living Liberation” last week. That’s the Free Software Foundation’s (FSF) big yearly event. I was excited to read that this year they would be publishing video and audio of all the talks. I’ve been wanting to learn more about what they’ve been doing since all the way back in the early 2000s when I went to a lecture given by Richard Stallman at a university just outside London, UK. He was very inspiring.
Every year I look for audio podcasts of their event, and every year something blocks my efforts. Unfortunately this year is no exception. They make a big deal about how the whole video and audio production is being done using free software all the way down to the BIOS level. That really is awesome and everything, seriously it really is, but when I added the feed to Apple Podcasts, it just doesn’t work. Looks like you have to have free software in order to listen.
Hey FSF, you sure do talk the talk about free software, but then in your actions you are basically saying “You can’t be free because you are not free”. I don’t like to have to say this because, no doubt a lot of effort went into this event, but it’s nearly twenty years later and I still can’t listen to your talks. Maybe next year eh?
In other news, there’s been so much about the war in Ukraine, it’s a horrid situation, but it’s been interesting to see the reaction from the tech community. There are so many amazing podcasts that are making connections and having conversations about the future of tech. That simply would not have been possible a couple of decades ago, we would have only had whatever the mainstream media outlets were publishing.
At first I was a bit put off by some of the content that took a military / government angle, but after taking the time to listen, I’ve started thinking how important it is to have these conversations. There are so many of us, we have very different points of view, and that’s ok, variety is good. We are all making stuff and trying to build a better future. We’re all in this together, so let’s keep sharing and find a way forward that’s better for all of us.
This was the first week using my new Agile notes workflow. It’s been a resounding success. I didn’t get all the items done from my first sprint, but I got about half of them done. More importantly though, I feel much more organised and able to handle multiple simultaneous projects. I know exactly where to write stuff, how to access old stuff I’ve written, and where to look to see where I’m at with things. I might do a writeup blog post about the implementation at some stage. It’s simple, but effective.
I did a lot of work on Github Actions workflows this week. I’ve gotten very close to getting npm installs from private repos working, still have a permissions error which I’m working through. I was able to split up some of the more complex workflows I have into separate jobs that run in series and that use artefacts to share data between jobs. Got that working yesterday, I’m happy about that. One of the limitations of Github Actions is that you can’t use private repos for reusable workflows. It’s a bit annoying, and means I’ll have to keep copying and pasting code, but at least the workflows are easier to read and comprehend.
Here’s a minimal example repo I created that demonstrates how to do that.
I wrote a couple of blog posts:
I think the one about the industrialisation of farming has some interesting ideas to ponder. What are the most urgent things we must avoid as we industrialise our software development?
I’m really happy that the FSF is “living liberation”, I really am, sounds great. Spare a thought for the rest of us though won’t you? For the time being at least, I’m avoiding the FSF.
This weeks podcasts:
The work-war balance of open source developers in the Ukraine (The New Stackmaker’s Podcast) - So much interesting topics covered in this episode, such a strange moment we find ourselves in. It’s heart warming to hear people in tech publicly making these types of connections
Rethinking Trust In Cloud Security (New Stack Makers Podcast) - Lots of very topical themes covered, some very interesting angles including government and military, which you might not like, but I like that they are having these conversations and answering some difficult questions
Peter Kafka talks with Judd Apatow Legendary comedy director/writer/producer about film making during lockdown and how social media is changing comedy
Gustav Soderstrom, Spotify's Chief R&D and Product Officer talks about the Future of Audio and Podcasting (Source Code Podcast) - If you’re interested in podcasting you’ll like this episode, I haven’t been a huge fan of how Spotify have been approaching the podcast space, but in this interview it’s clear they have some very interesting ideas, though some are perhaps controversial
Going full-time on Eleventy - (JS Party Podcast) - Zach Leatherman talks about recent developments with his inspiring open source ssg
Working For the Weekend Ep #164 (Punk Till I Die Podcast) - Are these guys fake? I have no idea, maybe, seems like everybody’s fake these days, however I’ve been listening since early covid and they do have great punk and music knowledge, their banter is entertaining, made better by generational and cultural differences, adding this last minute because it’s good to have variety, and I like the show
My Friend with Money (Fake Doctors Real Friends) - While we’re on this everything-is fake-theme, I’ve also been listening to these guys throughout covid, you’ll no doubt recognise them from the tele, IMO they are pushing the boundaries of what podcasting is and could be, it’s more broadway than punk rock, but I love it, I have ended up with the strangest most eclectic tastes
This week’s links:
Programmable notes - I found some of the ideas in this article interesting because last week I refactored the way I take notes to great affect. Having some automation around notes would be cool.
Running GUI apps within Docker containers - Could be useful for apps that aren’t from trusted sources
Computer Networks From Scratch - I like the approach, it’s a pleasant read, fun examples and nice diagrams
Firefox UI UX history - I wish there were more projects like this one, it’s cool to see the evolution of a UI, though there was a bit too much detail for me
A *magical* AWS serverless developer experience - Interesting article that looks at a modern serverless dev environment, worth remembering the trade offs though, platform lock-in being the most obvious
Design tokens | U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) - This is the first piece about design tokens that made some sense to me, up till now it has seemed like lots of hand waving to me, but this has a clear and meaty top to bottom example
The GOV.UK Design System is now live - Just saw this so posting it here, haven’t had time to read through it yet but it’s cool to be able to compare and contrast these different government design systems
Github Actions Service Containers - I’ve been down several rabbit holes this week refactoring sone workflows, a bit frustrating however I did discover that you can create containers to host things like databases and caches and have your code connect to them from inside an action, pretty cool for integration tests
Get a repo-scoped GitHub Access Token quickly - I find the GitHub security and auth confusing, surprised this isn’t just a standard feature in the UI, but at least there is a way to do it
Hello, Redis Stack - Focussed on real-time applications, Redis is super fast but I’ve found it to be bit too minimalist to build apps on, so this looks interesting, really curious to see what people build with these new primitives
What's New in Node Core: March 2022 Edition - Lots of cool new features, I especially like that many of the standards based APIs are being implemented in node
Google Calendar Webhooks with Node.js - I’ve been thinking recently that it would be cool to be able to use the already available calendar UI for personal apps, maybe this could be useful for that
lewisdiamond/stromjs: Dependency-free stream utils for Node.js - I’m always curious about streaming primitives, but so far haven’t done much where they would be useful, liking the dependency free aspect
That’s all from me…
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Have a great weekend and a fantastic next week!